We develop a general theory of foreign policy based on the assumption that states pursue two goals: security, defined as the ability to prevent changes in favored aspects of the status quo, and proaction, defined as the ability to change the status quo in desirable ways. We also assume a relationship between state power and production advantages for security and proaction. The model produces specific hypotheses relating state power and changes in power with security- and proaction-seeking behaviors. For instance, weak states gaining power are the most likely to engage in security-seeking behavior while strong states gaining power are the most likely to seek proaction. We associate proaction-seeking behavior with conflict initiation and security-seeking behavior with conflict reciprocation and test several hypotheses using the Militarized Interstate Dispute data set. While hypotheses are generally supported, the evidence suggests that some modifications of the theory are in order.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Political Science and International Relations